Students' union to take part in 1971 review of government grants
The National Union of Students has been asked, for the first time, to take part directly in government negotiations to set the level of students' grants.
Mrs. Thatcher, Secretary of State for Education and Science, and Gordon CampbellMr. Campbell, Secretary of State for Scotland, announced yesterday that a review of standard rates of awards to students will take place in the next six months to determine the grants for the period beginning September 1, 1971.
The Government will not appoint an outside body, but instead the N.U.S. and the Scottish Union of Students will meet officials of the education departments in a preliminary factual investigation of the changes in the cash value of awards which would be needed to maintain their real value.
Student participation in this enquiry, a statement from the Department of Education and Science said, “will not be regarded by the Government as limiting the freedom of the students' associations to submit such claim as they consider appropriate or to make representations about the real value of the awards” .
The N.U.S. said that it welcomed the announcement “because it means face-to-face negotiations over grants” The N.U.S. has felt in the past that recommendations made to committees have been more often than not ignored.
During the past year the N.U.S. has completed a major survey on the students' cost of living.
The decision to include the N.U.S. in the investigation is seen by members as a major step forward in the negotiating process. It will also be seen as some official recognition of its role as student representative.
Two years ago increases recommended by an advisory panel were limited by the Labour government to 50 per cent of the recommendations. In May, 1970, changes announced by the Government raised these grants to the levels recommended by the advisory panel, coming into effect on September 1.
The current rates are £420 for students of London University and other establishments of higher and further education in the London area and for students of Oxford and Cambridge universities; £380 for resident students elsewhere; £305 for students living at home; and £170 (plus free board and lodging) for students resident in colleges of education in England and Wales.
The D.E.S. statement yesterday said that the preliminary factual investigation would not imply a commitment by the Government to any particular level of grant. “In the light of findings, of the general economic and financial situation and of other relevant considerations, including representations made by interested parties, the Government will decide, in consultation with the local authority associations of England and Wales, on the total funds to be made available for student grants” .
The Government has invited local authority associations, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals and the students' associations to take part in joint discussions later to decide how these funds should be spent. The discussions will decide not only the level of grants but also look at such factors as the operation of the parental income scale.